Friday, March 13, 2009

The Great Republican Disaster

It looks as if the new chairman of the Republican National Committee is not a principled conservative (waffling on the pro-life issue; dismissing homosexuality as a genetic and not a moral issue), has little tact, and is alienating the most important constituents of the party.

I am a Christian first, a conservative second, and a Republican third. The Republican party has made deep mistakes in recent years, betraying the Reagan Revolution with the nomination of McCain (however better he was than Obama) and failing to produce compelling orators who can dynamically communicate deep conservative principles. (Senator Jack Kemp could deliver, but he fell by the wayside after the 1996 presidential election, when he ran for Vice President. Instead we got the first Bush, who set things up for Clinton.) President George W. Bush was more conservative than McCain, but a terrible speaker and easy to parody and ridicule, sadly. But even Bush was not really a fiscal conservative, despite his other strengths.

The country is moving to the hard left with Obama. It seems there is little principled resistance at this point, outside of talk radio and a few senators and congresspeople. It is a time to lament.

10 comments:

Bill said...

You make it sound like Pat Robertson cost Kemp the nomination. Kemp and Robertson combined got less than 12% of the primary vote in 1988, so it's not exactly like Robertson killed Kemp's campaign. George H. W. Bush got more than 65% in '88 with Dole running second. Kemp wasn't getting the nomination regardless of Robertson back in '88, siphoning or not.

Anyway, it sounds like you believe the Republicans should return to the more conservative views of Reagan. Yet many analyst think that it is the failure of the Republican party to reach moderate Republicans and independents, that have cost them so many elections over the last four years, and that the Republicans have become the party solely of the "white, Christian, male."

Bill said...

You make it sound like Pat Robertson cost Kemp the nomination. Kemp and Robertson combined got less than 12% of the primary vote in 1988, so it's not exactly like Robertson killed Kemp's campaign. George H. W. Bush got more than 65% in '88 with Dole running second. Kemp wasn't getting the nomination regardless of Robertson back in '88, siphoning or not.

Anyway, it sounds like you believe the Republicans should return to the more conservative views of Reagan. Yet many analyst think that it is the failure of the Republican party to reach moderate Republicans and independents, that have cost them so many elections over the last four years, and that the Republicans have become the party solely of the "white, Christian, male."

Doug Groothuis said...

Robertson hurt Kemp's momentum. I'm not saying Kemp would have won without Robertson, but that Robertson did much to hurt Kemp, who was the best candidate in my mind.

I don't take the basic principles of conservatism to have any pigment or gender. I do take them to be in basic alignment with the Christian worldview, however. Republicans, however, need to reach out to various communities to convince them that their ideas are better than the Democrats.

Sarah Geis said...

Bill,

You say that "many analyst think it is the failure of the Republican party to reach moderate Republicans and Independents, that have cost them so many elections over the last four years and that the Republicans have become the party solely of the "white, Christian, male.""

Objection number 1: Too many people concern themselves with the musings of analysts. There are a few who are trustworthy; most are not. Ideas should be evaluated based on content, not airtime. I could, but will not, go on.

Objection number 2: I dispute your suggested cause of Republican election losses. When any group softens its principles in order to better market itself, that group then compromises or even abandons its foundation. The numbers might increase, but the organization would then be growing upon an unstable or non-existent base. However, if a group learns to clearly and passionately articulate a position in order to persuade voters, the foundation is reinforced.

Is it not possible that the Republicans have lost recently partly because of a failure to communicate the errors in alternative positions and to persuade America as to why the classical conservative position is the best option? Furthermore, I would argue that too many leaders, Republican and otherwise, do not understand or even have principled positions. In this situation, Americans are faced with a very difficult decision as to which untethered politician to support during elections.

Finally, I come to objection number 3: "the party solely of the "white, Christian, male."" At the risk of sounding rather cantankerous, is this intended to be an argument? I admit it is a popular line, but the principled conservative position should be analyzed for validity of its ideas rather than demographics. The latter is a dismissal that merely showcases intellectual (and sometimes broader) laziness.

Steve Schuler said...

Doug,

Please watch the video that I am going to provide links to. It is an interview of a gentleman by the name of Andrew J. Blacevich by Bill Moyers. Mr. Blacevich describes himself as a social and political conservative. Mr. Blacevich clearly articulates observations and criticisms of where we find ourselves at today in America. He defines and expresses concerns that I most certainly share with him but would have never been able to define or express as he does. I do not know if you will agree with him or not, but I can almost guarantee that you will not be offended by him. I just finished watching this and think that this interview is relevant to the topic you are addressing.

The interview consist of two parts. The first segment can be viewed at:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/09262008/watch.html

The second segment can be viewed at:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/09262008/watch2.html

Steve Schuler said...

"What's happened to the conservative movement in America? Conservatives Mickey Edwards and Ross Douthat discuss why they believe their movement has gone off track during the last eight years and what it means for the Republican Party."

Bill Moyers Journal, July 8, 2008

View at:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07112008/watch.html

Note that transcripts of these interviews are included at these webpages if you prefer to read instead of viewing.

Sam said...

Great discussion. I'm new around here and I realize that there are historical issues on blogs to deal with but I'll jump in anyway.

I am a past middle-aged, white Christian woman. I have been a republican all of my adult life until the last two elections. The Republican party no longer represents me. I have spent a large part of my life working with faith based, non-profits who help the working poor and the homeless. When the Republicans have been in power, I've had to deal with the fall-out.

This country is diverse, ethnically, religiously, and many other ways. If the Republicans represent the conservative Christians, that's fine, just don't expect the rest of us to stick around. I will vote for which ever candidate, I believe, represents "the least of these".

Steve Schuler said...

Sam,

My own somewhat jaded view of Washington allows little respect for either Republicans or Democrats. It has taken a bi-partisan effort to build our huge national debt, with a burdgeoning class of new welfare recipients adding to that burden, the financial sector. I understand that about 42% of our federal budget typically supports the defense industry. Personally I would like to see more of those resources directed towards "hammering swords into ploughshares." I am trying to emerge from a long period of political cynicism in which I pretty much disengaged from political involvement. What inspired my own determination to involve myself again with political life was witnessing the calamity created during the Bush administration. I don't know if you have been able to read or watch the interviews I recommended, but the effort required for us to get back on track are going to require some fundamental changes not only in Washington but in the "person in the mirror" as well.

Sam said...

Steve - Excellent links. You're right, neither side is solely to blame. We as a country are to blame. I really like Andrew Bacevich.

I have a very cynical view of politics, I was in high school during the Nixon debacle. That has colored my opinion of politics and politicians since.

I grew up in California, I thought I was conservative until I moved to Texas and was informed there that I was a raving liberal. I didn't vote for George Bush for Governor. I did vote for him for Pres., once.

I think the US is on it's downhill side. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

I maintain, God is not a Republican or a Democrat and the US is not a Christian nation. We will rise and fall like all nations before us. Arrogance and greed will probably be what the historians say caused our demise.

Steve Schuler said...

Sam,

We have some parallels in our experience. I graduated from high school in 1974 in Alaska, which is where Doug and I met. I currently live in rural Oklahoma. Growing up during the Viet Nam War and through the Nixon "embarrassment" has probably had considerable influence on how I view the world of politics.

Thanks for the reminder that nations and governments are temporary things. I guess they always have been and suspect that they always will be. Perhaps it is in not confusing the temporal and transitional with the eternal that we might be better able to determine what is most valuable?